Eric Greitens | St. Louis Public Radio

Eric Greitens

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
File photo | Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

There was a sense of urgency when Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens called the first special session on May 18, aimed primarily at reopening an aluminum-smelting operation that had been southeast Missouri’s largest employer.

But in the weeks since Republicans gave the new governor what he wanted, there’s been no communication between smelting-plant officials and the state agency tasked with approving lower utility rates for such projects. However, leaders in the area are pinning their job-creation hopes on the other issue in that special session — a new steel mill that could employ up to 200 people.

Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

It’s going to get more difficult next month for a worker in Missouri to prove he or she was fired because of their race, gender, age, religion or heritage.

A new law, which Gov. Eric Greitens signed June 30 alongside the state budget, was championed by Republicans, businesses and the state Chamber of Commerce. But opponents want to make sure Missouri’s workers understand what may be in store if they’re suddenly unemployed.

Shelia Price marches against violence with her grandchildren Saturday, March 19, 2016 in north St. Louis. Her son died from a gun shot 20 years ago.
File photo | Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens said earlier this week that he’ll provide more trauma counseling services to St. Louis’ public schools as part of a broader plan to reduce violent crime in the city.

It’s a strategy the school district says it had no part in crafting.

Ameren's Callaway nuclear power plant produces about 19 percent of the electricity the company generates in Missouri. It is the only nuclear energy facility in the state.
File photo | Véronique LaCapra | St. Louis Public Radio

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has extended Missouri’s time to comply with the federal Real ID law, which means Missouri residents can use a current driver’s license to get into federal facilities, military bases and nuclear power plants.

Nationwide, Real ID-compliant identification has been required to get into such facilities since October 2015. Missouri’s extension goes through Oct. 10, Homeland Security spokeswoman Justine Whelan said. The extension was granted Monday. 

Gov. Eric Greitens announces the "St. Louis Safety Plan" in north St. Louis on Monday, July 10, 2017.
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis’ crime issue is now the state’s issue, too. At least, that’s what Gov. Eric Greitens indicated Monday when he announced a plan to direct state money and personnel toward the city.

The Republican’s proposal has the support of St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, but other elected Democrats are skeptical that it addresses the root causes of the violence. Greitens did not detail how much money the state would spend for these efforts.

School bus
Vipal | Flickr

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens temporarily pulled $15 million worth of funding for school transportation on June 30, leaving many rural districts in the lurch when it comes to paying for busing.

But school administrators say they have to get kids to the buildings, so taking buses off the road isn’t an option. And parents often don’t have the means or the time to drive those long distances.

Joshua Peters, July 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of Politically Speaking, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back state Rep. Joshua Peters.

The St. Louis Democrat represents Missouri’s 76th House District, which takes in a portion of north St. Louis City. He was first elected to the House in a 2013 special election before being re-elected in 2014 and 2016.

Deb Lavender, May 2017
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

More than 8,000 low-income and elderly Missouri residents entirely lost in-home health care services on Saturday and another 6,500 have had their time cut in half. That’s because Gov. Eric Greitens vetoed a bill last week that would have provided $35 million for those services.

Without the services, advocates say, some of those who lost services could be forced into nursing homes or need to visit an emergency room. The vetoed money is also likely to be the focus of a lawsuit.

Police officers from several St. Louis area departments salute Officer Blake Snyder's funeral procession as it arrives at St. Louis Family Church in Chesterfield on Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016.
Camille Phillips | St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens fought back tears Thursday as he explained why it was important for him to sign a measure creating a system to swiftly notify the public when an on-duty police officer is wounded.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens speaks to reporters after the 2017 adjourned. Greitens didn't have the smoothest relationship with legislators — including Republicans that control both chambers of the Missouri General Assembly.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri residents and businesses may see a small tax cut in the coming months due to the state bringing in a little more income than expected during the fiscal year that ended Friday.

But there’s nothing official, as Gov. Eric Greitens’ administration said Wednesday it’s still reviewing numbers released by the state budget office.

Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Just hours before Missouri’s new fiscal year begins, Gov. Eric Greitens on Friday announced that he was trimming more than $250 million in budgeted state spending, concerned that the state’s income would not cover all of legislators’ allocations.

Most of the trims, called “withholds,” are temporary and could be restored if the state’s finances improve. They largely affect dozens of programs in the state’s departments of health, social services and higher education.  For example, Greitens is withholding $60 million of the state’s share of Medicaid spending but predicts the money likely won’t be needed to match the federal portion of the Medicaid spending.

Illustration by Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

A gubernatorial commission wants to substantially scale back some of Missouri’s largest tax credit programs, which could set up a contentious fight during next year’s legislative session.

Gov. Eric Greitens visits Our Lady's Inn, a St. Louis pregnancy center for women experiencing homelessness, on June 8, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One of the main reasons Gov. Eric Greitens called a second special session was because of a St. Louis anti-discrimination ordinance dealing with women’s reproductive choices. Media outlets, including St. Louis Public Radio, have stated that Republican Sen. Andrew Koenig’s bill would completely overturn that law.

But that’s not the view of Koenig, Greitens’ office or the Democratic sponsor of the city law. They all agree the bill would prevent the law from being enforced against pregnancy resource centers that discourage women from having abortions.

Stephen Webber, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies for a candid episode of the Politically Speaking podcast.

Webber is a former state representative from Columbia who was elected last year as party chairman. He took on that role after narrowly losing a state Senate race to Republican Caleb Rowden.

Downtown St. Louis,  looking east
File photo | Brent Jones | St. Louis Beacon

After the difficult process this year of piecing together Missouri’s budget, lawmakers believe they’ve found a way to get more money for vital state services: Cutting tax credits.

But a report from state Auditor Nicole Galloway’s office shows that even with big changes to popular incentives, it could be years before the state saves a significant amount of money.

Gov. Eric Greitens signs the Foster Care Bill of Rights into law. (June 22, 2017)
Marshall Griffin|St. Louis Public Radio

Gov. Eric Greitens on Thursday signed into law a bill designed to improve the safety and quality of life of children in Missouri's foster care system.

 

At the heart of the measure is the Foster Care Bill of Rights, which begins by stating the “best interests of the child shall be the first priority of the children’s division” of the Department of Social Services.

More than 200 supporters wait for Gov. Eric Greitens to arrive at an anti-abortion rally at the Missouri Capitol.
Marshall Griffin | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 6:30 a.m. June 15 with Senate passing abortion bill — Missouri senators passed legislation early Thursday that would require annual health inspections of abortion clinics and enact other new restrictions on the procedure.

After a long day of closed-door meetings, the Senate eventually voted 20-8 in favor of the measure, which was sponsored by GOP Sen. Andrew Koenig of Manchester and now heads to the House. A competing bill filed by Sen. Bob Onder, R-Lake St. Louis, had been considered the main vehicle before Wednesday.

Commerical planes parked at a St. Louis Lambert International Airport terminal.
St. Louis Lambert International Airport

Updated at 8:10 p.m. with how much it'll cost to switch to a REAL ID license — Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signed a bill Monday aimed at averting a scenario in which Missouri residents could have been turned away at airports starting in January for lack of valid identification.

The legislation will give residents the option to get driver's licenses or other identification cards that comply with the federal REAL ID Act. Compliance with the tougher proof-of-identity requirements is necessary at airports, some federal facilities and military bases.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks with reporters after touring Our Lady's Inn, a St. Louis pregnancy center for women experiencing homelessness, on June 8, 2017.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

When it goes into its second special session Monday, the Missouri General Assembly will focus on a frequent — and arguably, favorite — target: local control.

On issues ranging from gun rights to anti-discrimination regulations, Republican leaders have made it clear that they believe there should be a consistent law across Missouri. That’s why since 2007, they’ve approved bills to bar communities from enacting stricter gun laws, overturned Kansas City’s higher minimum wage (there’s an action pending against St. Louis’ higher wage, too), and tossed out Columbia’s plastic bag ban.

Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

As promised, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is calling lawmakers back to Jefferson City — for the second time — to target organizations and local governments that support abortion rights.

The session begins next Monday. “I'm pro-life, and I believe that we need to defend life and promote a culture of life here in the state of Missouri,” the governor said in his announcement on Facebook.

Greitens' Cabinet appointees shown clockwise from top left: Sarah Steelman, Chris Chinn, Anne Precythe, Carol Comer, Joel Walters, Chlora Lindley-Myers, Randall Williams, Charles "Drew" Juden
Credits listed clockwise from top left / Jason Rosenbaum; Dept. of Agriculture; Tim Bommel, House Communications; Office of Gov. Eric Greitens; Linkedin; City of Sikeston

Updated June 6 to correct that the Department of Mental Health's director is appointed by a commission. Original story from Feb. 22, 2017:

With new administrations come new agency directors, and it’s up to the governor to choose those people. Most of  Republican Gov. Eric Greitens’ Cabinet positions have been approved by the Missouri Senate, while three still must be vetted.

Here’s a who’s who behind the major state agencies:

Gregg Keller, June 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome back Gregg Keller for the second time.

Keller is a St. Louis-based, Republican consultant who runs his own firm, Atlas Strategy Group. He’s worked for a number of Missouri’s prominent GOP officials, including former U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens signs a bill on Tues., May 30, 2017, banning project labor agreements before workers at Automation Systems, a firm in Earth City.
Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens appears to be reinforcing his anti-union image, inviting Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker — who also has built a reputation for taking on unions — to a rally Tuesday, where Greitens signed a bill outlawing a longstanding practice.

The bill bans cities and counties from using project labor agreements, which have been in use in the St. Louis area for decades. PLAs require all subcontractors to pay union wages, and often bar work stoppages over labor disagreements. Already, there are PLA bans on state projects.

Tim Bommel, Missouri House Communications

Updated May 25 with the day's actions — The special legislative session called by Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is getting closer to the finish line.

A Missouri Senate committee voted 10-1 Thursday to pass a bill designed to reopen an aluminum smelting plant in southeastern Missouri that was operated by Noranda. They made no additions to the bill, which goes before the full Senate on Friday.

Gov. Eric Greitens speaks in front of the Capitol during a rally in support of the Noranda bill on Tuesday, May 23, 2017.
File photo | Krissy Lane | St. Louis Public Radio

The Missouri House expects to send the Senate a bill Wednesday that would reopen a shuttered aluminum plant in the Bootheel region — long known as Noranda — and build a new steel plant next door.

What the Senate will do remains to be seen, considering at least one Republican is using the special session to again harangue fellow GOPer Gov. Eric Greitens for his agenda-pushing nonprofit.

Rep. Nick Schroer, R-O'Fallon, May 2017
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio

On the latest edition of the Politically Speaking podcast, St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies welcome state Rep. Nick Schroer to the program for the first time.

The O’Fallon Republican represents a portion of St. Charles County in the Missouri House. He was first elected to the 107th  House District in 2016.

Missouri Capitol, May 2017
File photo | Jo Mannies | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:45 p.m. May 22  with number of bills filed Monday – On the eve of his first legislative special session, Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens and his allied nonprofit group are attacking one of the pivotal legislators  needed to win approval of the governor’s favored bill.

The nonprofit group is called A New Missouri and can collect unlimited donations from unidentified donors. It is targeting state Sen. Doug Libla, a Republican whose southeast Missouri district includes the now-closed aluminum smelting plant that Greitens hopes to reopen, along with a possible steel mill.

Libla says he supports the projects. But the senator questions some provisions in the expected special-session bill that he says could reduce state oversight over Ameren, which provides electricity to much of eastern Missouri.

Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Day at the Missouri Capitol, 2013
MoBikeFed | Flickr

On Friday’s “Behind the Headline” with St. Louis on the Air, we took an in-depth look at some of the top news stories of the week.

Sue Spencer surveys what remains of her home on County Road 806 in Perryville. A tornado tore through the area in late February, destroying the home she lived in for three decades.
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

The sirens started a little before 8 p.m. on the last night of February. Residents of Perry County, in southeastern Missouri,  retreated to their basements — many of them not expecting the incoming tornado with a 14-mile-long and half-mile-wide path. Within an hour, the tornado had killed one man, damaged more than 100 homes and leveled dozens more.  

Three months later, there are signs that rebuilding is underway. Structures now stand where fallen trees, busted up car frames, and mangled bits of homes were scattered before. Perryville’s residents are recovering, hiring contractors, negotiating with insurance companies, and even managing the aftermath of severe flooding in April.

Missouri Capitol in Jefferson City, 2016
Ethan Weston | Flickr

Updated May 19 with Gov. Eric Greitens' plans to campaign for the legislation  — Missouri lawmakers will return to Jefferson City next week to consider legislation aimed at boosting the chances that the Noranda aluminum smelter plant will reopen and that a new steel plant will be built.

Gov. Eric Greitens is holding four rallies Saturday to promote legislation he says will help both southeast Missouri projects. The session will begin at 4 p.m. Monday.

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